This is the preliminary (or launch) version of the 2024-2025 VCU Bulletin. Courses that expose students to cutting-edge content and transformative learning may be added and notification of additional program approvals may be received prior to finalization. General education program content is also subject to change. The final edition and full PDF version will include these updates and will be available in August prior to the beginning of the fall semester.

Program accreditation
Council for Interior Design Accreditation

Program goal

The mission of the Department of Interior Design in VCU’s School of the Arts is to provide an intellectually rigorous, studio-based experience grounded in the issues of interior architecture. The department develops in its students an enduring passion and curiosity for their work, a determination to continually seek quality in their endeavors, an ability to reflect constructively upon their actions as individuals, and a responsibility for their lifelong education. The department focuses a student’s professional activities while encouraging connections between these activities and a larger forum of ideas that enrich their culture and their environment.

Student learning outcomes

  1. Students will demonstrate professional values.
  2. Student work will demonstrate advanced design theory.
  3. Student work will demonstrate advanced knowledge of interior design.
  4. Student work will demonstrate effective communication.
  5. Students will demonstrate a foundation in business and professional practices.

Concentration in interior environments – post-professional option

The post-professional option is a subconcentration of the interior environments concentration, one of about 10 available nationally, that allows students who already have undergraduate degrees in interior design or architecture the opportunity to develop an individualized direction in scholarship. Admission is highly selective and open only to students who have demonstrated a high caliber of work at the undergraduate and/or master’s level.

VCU Graduate Bulletin, VCU Graduate School and general academic policies and regulations for all graduate students in all graduate programs

The VCU Graduate Bulletin website documents the official admission and academic rules and regulations that govern graduate education for all graduate programs at the university. These policies are established by the graduate faculty of the university through their elected representatives to the University Graduate Council.

It is the responsibility of all graduate students, both on- and off-campus, to be familiar with the VCU Graduate Bulletin as well as the Graduate School website and academic regulations in individual school and department publications and on program websites. However, in all cases, the official policies and procedures of the University Graduate Council, as published on the VCU Graduate Bulletin and Graduate School websites, take precedence over individual program policies and guidelines.

Visit the academic regulations section for additional information on academic regulations for graduate students.

Degree candidacy requirements

A graduate student admitted to a program or concentration requiring a final research project, work of art, thesis or dissertation, must qualify for continuing master’s or doctoral status according to the degree candidacy requirements of the student’s graduate program. Admission to degree candidacy, if applicable, is a formal statement by the graduate student’s faculty regarding the student’s academic achievements and the student’s readiness to proceed to the final research phase of the degree program.

Graduate students and program directors should refer to the following degree candidacy policy as published in the VCU Graduate Bulletin for complete information and instructions.

Visit the academic regulations section for additional information on degree candidacy requirements.

Graduation requirements

As graduate students approach the end of their academic programs and the final semester of matriculation, they must make formal application to graduate. No degrees will be conferred until the application to graduate has been finalized.

Graduate students and program directors should refer to the following graduation requirements as published in the Graduate Bulletin for a complete list of instructions and a graduation checklist.

Visit the academic regulations section for additional information on graduation requirements.

Apply online today.

Admission requirements

Degree: Semester(s) of entry: Deadline dates: Test requirements:
M.F.A. Fall March 15

Special requirements

Applicants must meet the general admission requirements of the VCU Graduate School and include the following application content for consideration towards our program:

Curriculum vitae/resume

Applicants should submit previous academic and professional experiences (if any) in the format of a CV or resume in the University Graduate Application. A personal website may be included as a link in the CV/resume.

Letters of recommendation

Three letters of recommendation are required and should be submitted online by an applicant's recommenders. In the University Graduate Application applicants will enter the recommender names and email addresses to send a message requesting the recommendations. 

Letters of recommendation from professional associates such as instructors, supervisors, or colleagues should address the applicant’s ability to succeed in a graduate program, as well as describe specific experiences with the applicant that would translate to being an outstanding candidate for the M.F.A. in Design with a concentration in interior environments post-professional program.

Statement of intent

Applicant's statement of intent should be submitted in the University Graduate Application. Statements should be one or two pages in length and should briefly explain the following:

  • Applicant's academic and professional background

  • Reason for pursuing continued study of design of interior environments, including research agenda

  • Reason for interest in studying at VCUarts

  • Applicant's professional goals beyond graduate study

  • Level of interest in being awarded a Graduate Assistantship (see below for details) as well as financial need considerations (if any) 

Information on Graduate Assistantships:

The Department of Interior Design has historically been able to support a select number of graduate students with Graduate Assistantships, which are awarded positions where, in return for work done within the department, part or all tuition costs (not including fees) may be funded in addition to receiving a stipend per semester to help support additional expenses.

The interior design department does not have an official application process for graduate assistantship positions and all applicants are eligible for consideration and the selection process is competitive based on merit and need. Students wishing to be considered for graduate assistantships should express interest and rationale for being an outstanding candidate as a postscript to the statement of intent.

The offering of these awards is subject to availability and may be structured for either a full or half academic year (fall/spring). If awarded, positions are not guaranteed to be renewed.


A Portfolio is required for the M.F.A. in Design with a concentration in interior environments post-professional program application. This portfolio should contain no more than 15 individual annotated page spreads of design projects and should highlight a range of design abilities, thinking, and communication.

Applicants will submit their portfolio via SlideRoom. Specific technical guidelines regarding the submission of digital files is available in the SlideRoom system. SlideRoom charges applicants $10 to upload the portfolio.


Once an applicant has completed the application, the department may request an interview (may be via Zoom, telephone or in person).


Degree requirements

In addition to general VCU Graduate School graduation requirements, a minimum of 60 credit hours is required within prescribed courses. A research-design project is required to complete the program of study. This project is undertaken and developed in the context of IDES 699 and must consist of the testing of an original idea that is supported by research. This information will be synthesized through the design development process and culminate in an individual creative project of complex scale and scope. Documentation must follow established guidelines and be presented in a form that can be retained by the department and the university. On completion of the thesis, students participate in an oral examination and a graduate exhibition.

Curriculum requirements

Course Title Hours
IDES 601Graduate Interior Environments Studio6
Select one of the following:18
Advanced Design Studies
Teaching Practicum in Interior Environments
Open electives
Take 12 credits in the following course:12
Graduate Seminar in Interior Environments
IDES 693Interior Design Internship (optional; may substitute additional elective credit hours)3-6
IDES 699Creative Project - Thesis6

The minimum total of graduate credit hours required for this degree is 60.

Sample plan of study

Semester 1Hours
IDES 601 Graduate Interior Environments Studio 6
IDES 690 Graduate Seminar in Interior Environments 3
Design/arts electives 1 6
 Term Hours: 15
Semester 2
IDES 601 Graduate Interior Environments Studio 6
IDES 690 Graduate Seminar in Interior Environments 3
Design/arts electives 1 6
Candidacy review occurs upon successful completion of the second semester  
 Term Hours: 15
IDES 693 Interior Design Internship (optional; may be substituted for elective credit hours) 1 3-6
 Term Hours: 0
Semester 3
IDES 601 Graduate Interior Environments Studio 6
IDES 690 Graduate Seminar in Interior Environments 3
Select one of the following: 6
IDES 635 Teaching Practicum in Interior Environments 6
IDES 623 Advanced Design Studies 6
Open electives 6
 Term Hours: 15
Semester 4
IDES 623 Advanced Design Studies (or open electives) 6
IDES 690 Graduate Seminar in Interior Environments 3
IDES 699 Creative Project - Thesis 6
 Term Hours: 15
 Total Hours: 60

At least 12 credit hours of electives must be studio classes. Electives must be graduate-level and approved by the program director.

Kristin Carleton
Assistant professor and graduate director, Department of Interior Design
(804) 828-1713

Program website: